When choosing subjects students should have in mind: their vision of future university education (where, in which countries, in which universities) and subject specification; their interests and strong sides; recommendations from teachers. Students declare their choice of subjects in the application form when accepting an offer to join the IB Diploma Programme at Zlatarski International School of Sofia.
Choice between Higher and Standard level Subjects
IB Subjects Offered at Zlatarski International School of Sofia
To decide which three subjects they will do at Higher level and which three at Standard level, students should take into account their strong sides and their personal interests. Their plans for future university education should be noted, because in some cases universities require specific IB subjects and specific grades to be achieved. The final choice of subject levels is made towards the end of the first term of the 11th grade. This allows students and their parents some time to form a final decision after collecting information about university requirements and detailed study of the difference between HL and SL. The final choice should also take into account the references of the teachers in the different subjects.
Group 1: Language A – Bulgarian, English
Group 2: Language B, ab initio – English, German, Spanish
Group 3: Individuals and Societies – History, Economics, Information Technology
Group 4: Sciences – Biology, Physics, Chemistry
Group 5: Mathematics – Mathematics
Group 6: Electives – German or Spanish
In the DP, students receive grades ranging from 7 to 1, with 7 being highest. Students receive a grade for each DP course attempted. A student’s final Diploma result score is made up of the combined scores for each subject. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance including successful completion of the three essential elements of the DP core. The theory of knowledge (TOK) and extended essay (EE) components are awarded individual grades and, collectively, can contribute up to 3 additional points towards the overall Diploma score. Creativity, Action, Service – the remaining element in the DP core – does not contribute to the points total but authenticated participation is a requirement for the award of the diploma.
Organisation and Supervision of the Diploma Programme
Every student is supervised by the IB Coordinator, the CAS coordinator, the subject teachers and their Extended Essay supervisor. The whole IB teams guides the work of the students, aiming at:
- supervising the progress of each student
- reminding students of coming exams and deadlines
- informing the IB Coordinator for breaches of IB regulations or serious problems
- developing good relations with the students based on mutual acceptance and respect
Requirements for the IB students
At registration, the IB students accept and sign the IBO General Regulations. The successful participation in the Diploma Programme requires effective management of time and strict adherence to the internal school deadlines. It is the IB students’ duty to inform their teachers of any problems or need for additional help. The school year starts at the beginning of September with the IB retreat – a two-day meeting between IB teachers and students, where students receive a very detailed information of the different IB subjects, the internal calendar, which contains all assignments and exams and the internal deadlines.
IB Language A1
The course facilitates the clear expression of ideas, aids and clear, precise presentation of argument and assists in the understanding of both oral and written discourse. A broad reading requirement, an intense focus on literary essay writing and formal written and oral commentary work augments students’ ability in the native language and leads to an awareness of the ways in which literature is written. The course focuses as much on how the writer conveys his/her work as it does on what s(he) communicates, the aim being to show how both are connected.
IB Language B
English, German, Spanish
The course is designed for students who had previous experience with a foreign language for 3 to 5 years. The main focus of the program is to develop the students’ power of expression in both written and oral communicational ability to respond to language demands of transactional and social contracts; and to provide students with efficient tools for possible further studies or job opportunities. During the two years, students are expected to master a variety of skills: to understand a wide range of literary texts in a critical manner, to participate in discussions and debates, and to defend opinions. By the end of the course, students are also encouraged to produce well-structured written interactions (250 word essay at SL and 400 words at HL).
IB Language ab initio
Standard level second language courses, designed for students who have little or no experience with the language. The main aim of the course is to prepare students to use the second language for a variety of purposes via authentic materials and maximum exposure to the language. Students will be expected to engage in conversations relating to everyday situations, read short written passages on defined topics and recognise essential notices such as signs, timetables, and advertisements. Also, the students will be able to extract specific information from texts such as simple brochures, guidebooks, letters, etc; carry out writing tasks like short messages (post cards, lists, notes), simple letters, simple instructions, and short compositions; and show awareness of the foreign culture.
This course covers both 20th Century World History and the History of Europe. The course focuses on the thematic approach to 20the century topics such as: the causes, practices and effects of wars, the rise and rule of single party states, and East/West relations after 1945. All IB History candidates undertake an in-depth paper (coursework) of 3000 words during the first year, whether at SL or HL. Some of the aims of the course are: to provide an introduction to the nature of history as a discipline, the nature and variety of historical sources and the historian’s methods, to develop an awareness of the existence of different interpretations of the past through an acquaintance with some of these, to develop an awareness of both continuity and change in the past, and to promote a lifelong interest in the study of history.
This course covers both micro and macro economic theory. More specifically, the course is designed to give students insight into resource allocation, business economics, national income analysis, international trade, and economic growth and development. Over the two years it is expected that students will develop the ability to (1) objectively evaluate economic theories, concepts, situation and data in order to (2) apply the tools of economic analysis to past and contemporary situations and data so that findings may be explained clearly. During the two-year course, students are expected to write essays on economics articles of their choice to compile in a portfolio, which will be their Internal Assessment component.
An intensive course in general physics. At SL, greater emphasis is placed on historical development and social implications. The core material covered by SL is the same as HL but in less detail. Core topics include measurement, mechanics, thermal physics, waves, electricity and magnetism, atomic and nuclear physics. Higher level students study two additional options chosen from: biodemical physics, historical physics astrophysics, relativity, optics while Standard level study one option from: Mechanics extension, atomic and nuclear physics extension, or energy extension. At both levels the course is laboratory based. At SL, students are expected to spend 30 hours of the course on lab work while they spend 50 hours on lab work at HL. Furthermore, students have to work on a science group project undertaken by all IB students.
At SL, this course includes the study of cellular biology, chemistry of life, genetics, ecology, human health, physiology, and 3 topics from a list of options. At HL, the following topics are covered in depth either as core topics or as options: cyptology, zoology, ecology, evolution, genetics. At HL students spend 240 hours, at SL 180 hours. At both levels the course is laboratory based. At SL, students are expected to spend 45 hours of the course on lab work while they spend 60 hours on lab work at HL. Furthermore, students have to work on a science group project undertaken by all IB students.
Standard Level students may not have any background in this topic and successfully complete this subject. The chemistry course is organized by topics, with SL (150 hours) students having to study eleven topics and higher level (240 hours) students having to investigate nine of these topics to a greater depth. Both SL and HL students have the responsibility to cover two of seven option topics. A Chemistry HL at Zlatarski School allows students to acquire scientific knowledge and prepares them for their further education in Medicine, Bio-medicine, etc.
IB Math Methods
A Standard level course that aims at developing a sound basis of mathematical skills and knowledge in order to facilitate further study of mathematics and mathematically related subjects. The program includes algebra and coordinate geometry, trigonometry, functions, differentiation, integration, vectors and matrices, probability and statistics. Students are also expected to compile a specified number of investigative assignments over the two-year period in a portfolio, which will be their internal assessment component.
IB Mathematics Higher Level
This course caters for students with very sound background in the subject who are competent in a wide variety of analytical and technical skills. It includes in addition to all the topics covered in Math Methods, further calculus and abstract algebra. Students taking this course also have a portfolio requirement of investigative assignments complied over the two years.
Additional IB Diploma Programme Components
Theory of Knowledge
The course entitled Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is an important part of the IB Diploma. It explores the relationship among the various disciplines and ensures that students engage in critical reflection and analysis of the knowledge acquired within and beyond the classroom. The discussions take place within 130 hours. Assessment is based on an 2500 word essay on assigned IB topics, as well as a presentation on a freely chosen by the students topic.
Creativity, Action, Service
The participation in CAS helps students become active young citizens. The three main elements are creativity – activities in the arts, participation in social projects; action – participation in individual and collective sports activities, national and international projects; service – systematic and active participation in projects, concerning the problems of the local community. A total of 150 hours of CAS must be accumulated over the two-year period of IB studies.
The extended essay of some 4000 words is an integral part of the Diploma Programme. The Extended Essay is an in-depth study of a topic, freely chosen by the students, which provides the first experience with the independent research paper. Each candidate is assigned an Advisor. Assessment is according to the IB subject specific requirements.